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The Cycle of Violence


Phase 1: Tension Building

  • Batterer experiences increased tension
  • Victim minimizes problems
  • Batterer increases threats
  • Victim withdraws
  • Batterer controls more
  • Tension becoming intolerable
  • Victim feels like they are walking on eggshells
  • Poor communication

Phase 2: Abusive Incident

  • Batterer unpredictable; believes he is losing control
  • Victim is helpless; feels trapped
  • Batterer highly abusive, incident occurs
  • Incidence of violence or threat occurs
  • Victim traumatized
  • Batterer blames victim

Phase 3: Honeymoon Period

  • Batterer is loving, apologetic, and attentive
  • Victim has mixed feelings
  • Batterer is manipulative
  • Victim feels guilty and responsible
  • Batterer promises change
  • Victim considers reconciliation
  • Victim often recants/minimizes abuse

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The Cycle of Violence (pdf)